Challenges of programming a good fitness class that all will enjoy and benefit from

This is the first blog entry of Jeremy Trostel. He’s working as a trainer at eXtreme since more than 2 years. Jeremy is one of kindest souls and he takes pride in helping others achieving their wellness goals!

Jeremy t-shirt bicepsI feel the biggest challenge of programming a good class is the unknown. You always have a basic idea on who will attend your class aka the regulars. On the other hand being a destination gym connected to a hotel we have many clients who come and go, so you never know who or how many people may show up to a class. On top of that you don’t know their fitness levels, do they have current or former injuries and what are their goals? In addition here at Zendo fitness and Extreme hotel we have fitness campers who specifically book their vacations in order to make a lifestyle change. For those we cater personal training sessions and classes around their specific needs and wants.  All these questions come in my mind while I design a class. Contrary to people’s beliefs we are not just muscle heads who pound protein shakes and throw weight around. On the contrary we have everyday problems as well, like does this shirt make my biceps look small? ;)

Now that we have spoken about some of the challenges of programming a fitness class let’s get to some of the solutions and ideas that go through my head while designing a class. I always want my classes to be safe for everyone attending and I want it to be a great total body workout. It should be enjoyable for all and informative so the clients walk out of the gym wanting to come back!

One huge factor that goes through my head is coming up not only with exercises for the class, but having modifications in my mind to ensure every student, no matter their fitness level, will be able to complete the exercises correctly and safely to get the most out of each movement and to challenge anyone at any fitness level. A quick example of a modification would be a basic goblet squat using a dumbbell. If you have someone who has trouble performing a basic bodyweight squat, giving them weight is a bad idea. So as a coach I have a modification ready, such as having the student utilize the TRX straps to help maintain proper form while performing. I watch my student and point out factors or cues like breathing or telling them to widen their foot position or keep their knees out in order to help them learn and perfect the movement. On the other hand if you have someone who is not challenged enough by by a goblet squat you can always modify by adding more weight and throw in a barbell, give the option of front squats or back squats or they can grab a medicine ball and hit wall balls. The options are only limited by one’s imagination.

Another factor is class size and amount of equipment. Now you have to come in hot and be quick on the draw and have the ability to come up with a few quick options such as breaking the class up in groups or for intensity you can throw in plyometrics. Again coming back to the squat example and there are not enough barbells, dumbbells or space available, you can make a jump squat or box jump instead as a game changer.

Jeremy teaching class full body workoutSome other factors to think about in programming is tempo, intensity, rep-count and rest. All factors that come into play here at Zendo fitness while I design a class for  students and peers here in Cabarete!

After all I take pride in having classes that are enjoyable for all.  I want people to continue a healthy lifestyle and encourage their friends and family members to come to attend classes as well. Personally I feel the biggest compliment is having students bring in others they care about to start training with us at Zendo! This tells me they are happy with the classes we are designing and they are personally happy with the way they are feeling both physically and mentally. So in change they are reciprocating the love by bringing others they care about into the Zendo/Extreme family.